Home Improvement

No splinters for you!

My husband and dad did the un-fun task this summer of redoing our deck. After years of weather left the decking worn and splintery, we decided it was time — especially with a baby soon to be on the move. We didn’t want to have to worry about her soft skin on the rough wood.

Speaking of our little one, I was on baby duty, so I wasn’t much help on this project. OK, I wan’t any help. And I’ll admit, it was tough to just be a spectator! But I documented, and that’s something… right?

Here’s the deck (mostly) before:

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You can see some of the damage on the individual boards here. Thankfully the supports were in good shape so they only had to replace old boards and railings.

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New treads!

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New rails:

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For the decking, they took off some of the old boards before adding the new boards. It was easier and safer for them to work that way.

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The baby liked to watch.

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They discovered the most perfect egg during the renovation.

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Progress:

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Here is the final result:

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The best part? The Maryland flag and baby swing.

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It took them a week to do the project, and it turned out wonderfully.

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Home Improvement, Paint, Uncategorized

Did I mention we redid our kitchen?

My kitchen is never clean enough to photograph. It’s not that we’re gross people, or so I tell myself. But something is always on the counter that shouldn’t be, or there’s a tumbleweed of dog hair on the floor, or we went to bed without loading all of the dishes into the sink. Basically, we’re normal human beings. So it’s taken me FOREVER to make my kitchen photo worthy, even though it’s been complete for at least two months. It was only after I took these photos that I noticed the side and top of the fridge look like the normal hot mess they always are, but screw it. My house never looks perfect, and I think that is just fine for you all to see.

So, here is our finished kitchen!

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If you’re interested in the whole story, I’ll start from the beginning. Here is the grand before shot (although the wall’s been opened at this point). See, we love us a cluttered fridge!

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We did three main things: walls, floors and cabinets.

You already saw in this post that we widened the doorway in our kitchen, removing the door completely and bumping the walls to the edge of the cabinets and to the ceiling. It made our first floor feel a lot more open concept without removing all that much drywall. And the kitchen feels giant now! We are also really enjoying having our table where it was designed to be, in the middle of the dining room rather than up against the wall. It is easier to get around both sides of the table, which is really convenient if we have guests.

Before:

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After:

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We also lightened the wall color, using the same Sea Salt green paint we chose for our bedroom.

The second thing we did was the floors, and all of the kuddos go to Brian. While I was working from home, he removed all of the tile floor, which had been cracking, chipping and losing grout at an alarming pace for years.

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I HATED the kitchen floors before. They were cheap, ugly and poorly installed. Even the subfloor was a welcome change to the tile.

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So when we started talking about redoing the hardwoods throughout the rest of the house, we decided to get a quote for laying hardwoods in the kitchen and feathering them into the existing floors.

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I am so so happy we did this. It gives the first floor a cohesive look since there isn’t a glaring transition between the kitchen and dining room. And since there isn’t a threshold between the spaces, it makes cleaning the floors a breeze.

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The last thing we did, which I get to take all of the credit for, was painting the cabinets. I did a lot of research on the best paint to use for kitchen cabinets and settled on Benjamin Moore Advance paint. I’ve used Benjamin Moore Impervo paint on a dresser before, and it’s held up remarkably well. The only blemish is when Brian ran into it on a hoverboard. Womp womp.

The Benjamin Moore store was great. And no, I was not given free paint to say that.  I went in to talk to the people and they recommended I come back and bring in a door and a sample of the backsplash tile we want to eventually install. After seeing the door, they recommended a specific primer based on the type of existing finish. And after much debate and opinions from most of the staff, we ended up choosing Decorator’s White, which I would describe as a pretty pure white. It definitely doesn’t skew warm, which is good because I didn’t want that at all. Once I bought the paint, we got to work taking down and labeling all of the doors.

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Then came the “fun” part. I sanded, dusted, deglossed and primed all of the doors and the base cabinets. I also caulked gaps between the base cabinets and walls and filled holes from shoddy installation (thanks, Fannie Mae!).

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Then, I applied three coats to all of the cabinets. This took longer on the doors because of the front and back factor. I wanted to do this right, so I forced myself to take my time and not rush through the painting. It took me about the standard length of a movie to do a coat on the cabinets, so once I figured that out I started enjoying the monotony of painting a bit more.

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And then we waited. We waited for the doors to dry. We waited for the floors to cure. We waited and waited. And once we were satisfied that we wouldn’t muck up all of the hard work we’d done to prepare, we reassembled the cabinets.

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The difference was astounding.

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The whole space seems so much larger and brighter!

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And did I mention I got a fancy glass-top stove! Swoon. Buh-bye coils!

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The cabinets have held up pretty well so far. I touched up a few spots that got dinged from us putting them back up, and the Benjamin Moore paint is really great for that. Touch-ups don’t stand out as fresh paint. I suspect I’ll have to touch up every now and then, but these cabinets are really and experiment to see how white cabinets hold up in general to kitchen grime. If we ever redo a kitchen in another house down the road, I think I’d definitely choose white cabinets again.

So there you have it, folks. It was a helluva lot of work, but man it was worth it! Our first floor is a brand new space and we love it.

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One last time:

Before:

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After:

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Home Improvement

Renovation Station

So we randomly started a major renovation of our house. It is sort of how we work. I dream and plot and dream some more about what I want to do in our house, then we start one small project and BAM, it explodes into an entire renovation. It’s how we started our basement reno and our bathroom reno. And it’s how we started our current reno.

I just wanted to open a wall a teensy bit. Eventually we’d redo our hardwood floors, paint our cabinets, get a new stove and do a tiled backsplash. But right now, I just wanted to open the wall. You see, my step dad is SUPER handy and is moving soon. So I wanted to cash in on his handy man skills while he wasn’t crazy busy pimping out his new house. So a few weekends ago we took this:

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And this:

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… and destroyed it!

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Knocking down walls = SO MUCH FUN and so cathartic. Have a bad day at work? Punch a hammer through a wall and tell me it doesn’t make you feel better.

For this project we needed to remove drywall, cut out studs, relocate cable, redo trim, repair drywall and patch giant holes in the wall. We also smoothed out part of our ceiling that had gotten a little wonky.

Here’s a semi-finished shot of the space:

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It’s really nice to be able to see into our dining room. It took us quite a while to get used to it. I think we were both silently worried we might have made a mistake, but it is wonderful!

We have so much more space to walk around our table, which means instead of squishing in four people at a dinner, we can comfortably have six people in that space.

Here’s another almost-finished shot from the other side.

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You can see the whole kitchen from here now! It makes the space feel GIANT.

I don’t want to spoil some of the other progress we’ve made in the house in the past month with the more complete version of the wall project, but trust me…. it’s looking sharp.

I will share one sneak peak of what else this mini reno inspired:

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Check out those hardwoods, baby! You can pretty much guess what that means we are doing with the rest of the house… but I’ll save more photos until next time.

Huge shout out to my step dad John — we couldn’t have done all of the drywalling and mudding without you. Thanks for all of the help!